For the first time ever, a 2018 Miss USA selection committee made of all women will replace the Miss USA celebrity judges. And it's a pretty big deal. But some things, as you might expect, will stay the same. The event will still be hosted by celebs (Nick and Vanessa Lachey) and will include celebrity analysis from Carson Kressley and Lu Sierra.
According to Glamour, the committee spent a full week with the contestants before the pageant to really get to know the women. In case you were curious, the Miss USA selection committee this time around is made up of:
- Jamie Kern Lima, the co-founder and CEO of IT Cosmetics
- Denise White, founder and CEO of EAG Sports Management
- Lilliana Vazquez, a TODAY style contributor
- Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008 and founder of MISS Academy
- Natasha Curry, Miss Washington USA 1998 and television host
“Pageants get such a bad rap,” Vazquez told Glamour. “I think it’s up to the people who watch pageants and the networks to push change forward. And now is the perfect time to do it.”
It's because of that supposed bad reputation that it's so significant to have all women judging panel. It allows for a new avenue of female empowerment in the pageant arena.
On Monday, 51 contestants are gathering at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport. According to Miss USA, the contestants are journalists, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, students, engineers, a professional skydiver, and a sergeant in the U.S. Army, among other professions.
The contest is already underway with preliminary competitions, including interviews and a swimsuit (or athletic garb) presentation as well as an evening gown presentation. Monday's broadcast will begin with the announcement of the women who made it to the semifinals.
Each semifinalist will take the runway in their athletic gear or swimsuit. These women then move onto the evening gown segment, a staple of pageants. According to the official rules, the design doesn't matter for the overall score, but the judges do judge how confident she wears the evening gown during her presentation.
Then the top six contestants advance to the final interview round. Each competitor picks a judge who then asks a question about a social, political or culture topic of the moment. The scores are averaged, and then we move onto the top three contestants. The winner is then given the tiara currently held by last year's winner, Miss Washington D.C. Kara McCullough.
While the all-female judging panel will choose the finalist and winner, viewers can vote for their favorite contestant during each round. The live broadcast airs at 8/7c on Fox.
The 2018 Miss USA competition is two years removed from the affiliation with President Donald Trump. Trump had owned the pageant system for nearly two decades. Then his infamous presidential announcement speech happened.
His comments about Mexicans -- he called them "rapists" and "drug dealers" but also said "some, I assume, are good people" -- drove away broadcasters like Univision, which serves millions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Trump then sold the Miss Universe Organization.
Having an all-female judging panel is a way to move the pageant into the modern era. "People say, 'How dare you compete in pageants,' that they’re not empowering to women, and judging them for that, when all these young women are saying: 'I got something out of this,'" Miss Universe Organization President Paula Shugart told Glamour.
Vasquez, one of the members of the all-female judging panel, told the magazine that they'll be looking for more than just a beautiful face in a beautiful dress. The committee is looking for “someone who will set the bar even higher, and be part of the change going forward,” she said.